The latest Radeon driver improves some RX 6000 cards’ power consumption, but AMD never mentioned it

AMD’s Adrenalin 21.4.1 driver arrived last week with a slew of features and upgrades, but it seems team red failed to mention an important element; it lowers the power consumption of some RX 6000 cards in specific scenarios—not gaming, unfortunately.

TechPowerUP discovered that the latest Radeon Adrenalin 2021 Edition Graphics Driver (21.4.1) lowers non-gaming power consumption for some of AMD’s Big Navi cards compared to the previous 21.3.2 version.

When idle, the Radeon RX 6700 XT shows no improvement with the new driver, though that card consumed just ~5W before the driver was applied. However, the RX 6800, RX 6800 XT, and RX 6900 XT all saw significant drops of around 20W (about 72%) at 1440p resolution.

The multi-monitor tests showed little change in power draw, but media playback saw around 30% lower power consumption for the top three RDNA 2 cards, dropping from around 50W to 35W.

The publication theorizes that the minor changes in the RX 6700 XT’s power consumption are due to AMD having improved the RX 6800/6900’s power efficiency issues in its most recent card. The driver now applies those improvements across the whole Big Navi range.

So, why did AMD not advertise the power draw improvements? It could be because even with the driver applied, Nvidia’s equivalent cards still boast lower levels; the RTX 3070 draws 18W during media playback, while the RTX 3080 uses 27W.

Some parts of the Adrenalin 21.4.1 driver that AMD does advertise include a new version of AMD Link for Windows that allows user to stream games to other devices, such as notebooks, at 4K/144fps. It also enables local co-op games to be played remotely, providing both Windows 10 PCs are using AMD cards.